Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioner PGCert

Study level: Postgraduate
Patient lying on a physio bed with a practitioner moving patient's leg on top of a large green ball

This Postgraduate Certificate for Musculoskeletal First Contact Practitioner is aimed at fully qualified, experienced practitioners who are working in or towards first contact roles.

Year of entry



Coventry University (Coventry)

Study mode



1 year part-time

Course code


Start date

September 2024

The information on this page is for 2023-24 entry and should be used as guidance for 2024-25 entry. Please keep checking back on this course page to see our latest updates.

Course overview

This is a clinically focused course designed to equip you with high level critical, evaluative and clinical skills to meet the demands of someone working in a first contact practice role.

The course is approved by Health Education England as fulfilling stages 1 and 2 of the FCP roadmap to practice (Health Education England, 2021). First contact practitioners and advanced practitioners in primary care: (Musculoskeletal) A roadmap to practice.

  • The course aims to provide you with a coherent programme of study relevant to current advanced musculoskeletal (MSK) physiotherapy practice.
  • It also offers a range of learning opportunities that will enable you to explore and extend the skills, knowledge and professional expertise required to be able to lead and influence musculoskeletal service delivery in a wide range of practice settings.
  • The course offers 75 hours mentored clinical practice placement where skills and knowledge gained on the course are applied to the practice setting2.
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Why you should study this course

First Contact Practitioner services have been shown to improve MSK pathways, improve onward referral and enhance patient experience and outcomes (NHS England, 2019). The aim is that by 2024, all adults in England will be able to see a Musculoskeletal FCP at their local GP practice without being referred by a GP (NHS England, 2021). Health Education England (HEE) has produced a Roadmap to Practice which sets out the training processes and educational pathways to FCP recognition for MSK physiotherapists (HEE, 2021). This clinically focused programme has been approved by Health Education England as offering a level 7 taught route for FCP recognition. The course covers both stage 1 and stage 2 on the roadmap to practice.

This programme is aimed at fully qualified, experienced and highly motivated practitioners who want to make a difference to clinical practice and work in senior clinical roles. It aims to equip practitioners with advanced level knowledge and skills capable of promoting MSK health, providing safe, effective, high-quality care in the diagnosis and management of individuals with MSK disorders.

The course also aims to develop physiotherapists who will excel as clinical leaders with the capacity to influence local service delivery; foster evidence-informed practice; lead clinical teams and contribute to the education of the local healthcare workforce. The overall course aim is to produce graduates who will operate at the highest level of practice ready to move into senior clinical roles such as first contact practitioners, advanced physiotherapy practitioners, clinical specialists and consultants.

You will learn from our experienced teaching team in the state-of-the-art Alison Gingell Building which provides a stimulating learning environment for healthcare professionals.

Accreditation, professional recognition and exemptions

The programme has been approved by Health Education England as a taught route to First Contact Practitioner recognition. On successful completion of the course the student will be able to apply to the Centre for Advanced Practice at Health Education England to be able to sit on the directory as a recognised First Contact Practitioner.

What you'll study


  • This clinically focused module is designed to build on and further develop your existing knowledge, skills and clinical experience ready for advanced practice roles where the focus is on the provision of high-quality care in the diagnosis and management of individuals with MSK disorders and on MSK health promotion. You will specifically focus on developing the breadth and depth of assessment skills necessary to confidently and competently screen and assess individuals presenting with MSK disorders and to place them on an appropriate care pathway. The module aims to enable you to become a practitioner who is an evidence-informed critical thinker, complex problem solver and effective decision maker in all areas of your clinical practice. Specialist guest lecturers (subject to availability) are involved in the module delivery providing the opportunities for you to apply new theoretical knowledge to practice and further assisting the development of advanced practical skills.


  • The module challenges and extends your knowledge, skills and capabilities to an advanced level in the effective management of individuals with MSK conditions presenting with acute, persistent or complex pain. Throughout the module you will explore the current evidence base and theories of pain physiology and neuroscience and how this can be applied to clinical practice.


  • This module provides the education, knowledge, skills and competencies you will need to help enable you to develop the level of practice required as an Advanced Physiotherapy Practitioner (APP) to work safely, effectively and legally within your scope of practice. In the module you will explore the clinical, educational and leadership pillars of advanced clinical practice. Diagnostics (x-rays, MRI scans and blood tests), systems screening, pharmacology, outcome measures, role governance, clinical audit and change management will all be explored through case scenarios, presentations, case reports and interactive seminars allowing you to develop the principles and practice and to apply these to your own specialist clinical setting.


  • This clinical placement module will take place in a primary care environment under the supervision of a clinical supervisor who is recognised as either an Advanced Practitioner, a Consultant Practitioner or a GP who has completed the Health Education England (HEE) two-day primary care supervisor training. The minimum requirement is of 75 hours of supervised clinical practice to fulfil the standards set out by Health Education England. Successful completion of this module is demonstrated through a practice portfolio detailing events outlined in the First Contact Practitioner Roadmap alongside a clinical reasoning case-based discussion.

    The aim of this module is to synthesise the theoretical and practical components of the student's course, developed through the modules - Musculoskeletal Management for Advanced Practice, A Clinical Approach to Pain for Health Professionals and Advanced Physiotherapy Practice. The students will consider a variety of clinical presentations that will enable them to attain breadth and depth of knowledge and a high level of skill in clinical reasoning. This module will assist in the development of their expertise as both an individual Advanced Practitioner and within their role in their own working environment.


We regularly review our course content, to make it relevant and current for the benefit of our students. For these reasons, course modules may be updated.

How you'll learn

You will be taught using a mixture of strategies including practical seminars, debates, group work, presentations, lectures, workshops, peer learning, pre-session activities, involvement of service users and problem-based learning using case reports, case scenarios and case studies. These activities are supported through the use of learning-enhanced technology.

The course has been designed to be progressive. Module content in semesters 1 and 2 cover the theoretical content of stage 1 of the FCP roadmap. This is then built upon in semester 3 where the student will put theory into practice on clinical placement. The placement will cover the learning needs of stage 2 of the FCP roadmap. This progressive approach facilitates a meaningful, clinically relevant student experience with the aim of modelling high standards of patient care in a variety of ways.

This course is delivered in one year and constitutes part-time study. The course involves a blended mixture of online and face-to-face study. Our platform provider is currently Aula and offers an interactive learning environment.

Teaching contact hours

Students are usually required to attend teaching sessions, whether this is in the university or online, which equates to approximately one day per week with approximately 8 hours of teaching. The days and times are independent in each module and subject to change.

Additionally, you will be expected to undertake significant self-directed study of approximately 10 hours each week, depending on the demands of individual modules.

Teaching is comprised of a combination of seminar sessions, workshops, practical sessions and lectures. The contact hours may be made up of a combination of face-to-face teaching, individual and group tutorials, and online classes and tutorials.

As an innovative and enterprising institution, the university may seek to utilise emerging technologies within the student experience. For all courses (whether on-campus, blended, or distance learning), the university may deliver certain contact hours and assessments via online technologies and methods.

Since COVID-19, we have delivered our courses in a variety of forms, in line with public authority guidance, decisions, or orders and we will continue to adapt our delivery as appropriate. Whether on campus or online, our key priority is staff and student safety.


You will be assessed through a varied schedule of assessments across the course to aid critical thinking to help you to become clinically competent and develop the key knowledge, attitude, values and skills required for advanced clinical practice and postgraduate study.

The course assessments have been designed collectively to complement each other and to be learning tools in themselves. Examples of different assessment methods used include:

  • Presentations
  • Practical vivas
  • Clinical vivas
  • Case reports
  • Essays
  • Reflective assignments
  • Educational vlogs

These different assessment approaches are fully relevant to clinical practice and cover written, presentation and visual modes to acknowledge and support different student approaches to learning and different skills required in the workplace.

The Coventry University Group assessment strategy ensures that our courses are fairly assessed and allows us to monitor student progression towards achieving the intended learning outcomes.

Entry requirements

Typical offer for 2024/25 entry.

Applicants must meet the following criteria. You must:

  • Be a HCPC-registered physiotherapist with a minimum of 5 years post graduate experience and at least 3 years of MSK experience
  • Have written support from your line manager
  • Have a clinical practice and supervisor in placement for stage 2 prior to start of the course
  • Have completed the E-LfH online modules.

Please refer to the full requirements in the disclaimer section5.

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Applicants must meet the following criteria. You must:

  • Be a HCPC-registered physiotherapist with a minimum of 5 years post graduate experience and at least 3 years of MSK experience
  • Have written support from your line manager
  • Have a clinical practice and supervisor in placement for stage 2 prior to start of the course
  • Have completed the E-LfH online modules.

Please refer to the full requirements in the disclaimer section5.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 7.0 overall with at least 6.5 in each component area

If you don't meet the English language requirements, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.

For more information on our approved English language tests visit our English language requirements page.

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Fees and funding

2024/25 tuition fees.

Student Full-time Part-time
UK Not available £4,108  
EU Not available Not available
International Not available £6,200  

For advice and guidance on tuition fees3 and student loans visit our Postgraduate Finance page.

We offer a range of International scholarships to students all over the world. For more information, visit our International Scholarships page.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessments, facilities and support services. There may be additional costs not covered by this fee such as accommodation and living costs, recommended reading books, stationery, printing and re-assessments should you need them.

The following are additional costs not included in the tuition fees:

  • Any optional overseas field trips or visits: £400+ per trip.
  • Any costs associated with securing, attending or completing a placement (whether in the UK or abroad).

*Irish student fees

The rights of Irish residents to study in the UK are preserved under the Common Travel Area arrangement. If you are an Irish student and meet the residency criteria, you can study in England, pay the same level of tuition fees as English students and utilise the Tuition Fee Loan.

**EU Support Bursary

Following the UK's exit from the European Union, we are offering financial support to all eligible EU students who wish to study an undergraduate or a postgraduate degree with us full-time. This bursary will be used to offset the cost of your tuition fees to bring them in line with that of UK students. Students studying a degree with a foundation year with us are not eligible for the bursary.


You will have access to clinical skills labs4, with the opportunity to use equipment within the purpose-built Alison Gingell Building.

Students working in Allison Gingell building facilities

Alison Gingell Building

The Alison Gingell Building features mock hospital wards, an operating theatre, critical care settings and other real-life environments.

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Mock Hospital Wards

Our mock hospital wards and critical care settings give you the chance to experience patient scenarios in a real-world environment.

Patient, student and staff member talking in community house setting

Community Houses

Our two full-size community homes can be used for sessions simulating working with patients outside of a hospital setting.

Careers and opportunities

Successful completion of this course will enable you to demonstrate your competence as a First Contact Practitioner and register on the directory as a First Contact Practitioner at the Centre for Advanced Practice. This Health Education England course directly maps to the First Contact Practitioners and Advanced Practitioners in Primary Care: (Musculoskeletal) A Roadmap to Practice (Health Education England, 2021). This course offers the opportunity to progress your knowledge and skill through progression on to the MSc Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy course.

It aims to prepare graduates capable of operating at the highest level of clinical practice who will excel as clinical leaders and are ready to move into senior clinical roles with the capacity to influence local service delivery; foster evidence informed practice; lead clinical teams and contribute to the education of the local healthcare workforce.

This course supports the ‘upskilling’ and development for FCP. It fully explores the clinical pillar of advanced clinical practice and maps to the Advanced Clinical Practice Framework (2018 Health Education England); First Contact Practitioners and Advanced Practitioners in Primary Care: (Musculoskeletal) A Roadmap to Practice (Health Education England, 2021) and the International Federation of Manipulative Physical Therapists Education Standards (IFOMPT, 2016).

On completion of this course graduates will have the opportunity to use the credits towards the full MSc in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy. This additional course maps directly to the four pillars of advanced practice. It can lead to membership of the Musculoskeletal Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (MACP) and a level 7 CMI certificate. Additional annual fees are required to gain full membership of the MACP.

How to apply

  • For questions regarding study and admissions please contact CPD Admissions Team:


    +44 02476 79 5989
    +44 02476 79 5158
    +44 02476 79 7142

    Apply online



  • For questions regarding study and admissions please contact CPD Admissions Team:


    +44 02476 79 5989
    +44 02476 79 5158
    +44 02476 79 7142

    Apply online



  • Coventry University together with Coventry University London, Coventry University Wrocław, CU Coventry, CU London, CU Scarborough, and Coventry University Online come together to form part of the Coventry University Group (the University) with all degrees awarded by Coventry University.


    The majority of our courses have been formally recognised by professional bodies, which means the courses have been reviewed and tested to ensure they reach a set standard. In some instances, studying on an accredited course can give you additional benefits such as exemptions from professional exams (subject to availability, fees may apply). Accreditations, partnerships, exemptions and memberships shall be renewed in accordance with the relevant bodies’ standard review process and subject to the university maintaining the same high standards of course delivery.

    2UK and international opportunities

    Please note that we are unable to guarantee any UK or international opportunities (whether required or optional) such as internships, work experience, field trips, conferences, placements or study abroad opportunities and that all such opportunities may be unpaid and/or subject to additional costs (which could include, but is not limited to, equipment, materials, bench fees, studio or facilities hire, travel, accommodation and visas), competitive application, availability and/or meeting any applicable travel, public authority guidance, decisions or orders and visa requirements. To ensure that you fully understand any visa requirements, please contact the International Office.

    3Tuition fees

    The University will charge the tuition fees that are stated in the above table for the first Academic Year of study. The University will review tuition fees each year. For UK (home) students, if Parliament permit an increase in tuition fees, the University may increase fees for each subsequent year of study in line with any such changes. Note that any increase is expected to be in line with inflation.

    For international students, we may increase fees each year, but such increases will be no more than 5% above inflation. If you defer your course start date or have to extend your studies beyond the normal duration of the course (e.g. to repeat a year or resit examinations) the University reserves the right to charge you fees at a higher rate and/or in accordance with any legislative changes during the additional period of study.


    Facilities are subject to availability. Access to some facilities (including some teaching and learning spaces) may vary from those advertised and/or may have reduced availability or restrictions where the university is following public authority guidance, decisions or orders.


    Satisfactory health clearance and enhanced criminal record disclosure is also required. As part of the health clearance checks, you will be required to provide information about your immunity and vaccination status. The information you provide will be used to determine your eligibility to go on placement(s). Placements are provided at the placement provider’s discretion. The University is, therefore, unable to guarantee the provision of placements or the location and type of placement offered.

    Student Contract

    By accepting your offer of a place and enrolling with us, a Student Contract will be formed between you and the university. A copy of the current 2023/2024 contract is available on the website for information purposes however the 2024/25 Contract is currently being updated so please revisit this page before submitting your application. The Contract details your rights and the obligations you will be bound by during your time as a student and contains the obligations that the university will owe to you. You should read the Contract before you accept an offer of a place and before you enrol at the university.

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